Hi there. I’m back after a prolonged offseason hibernation. Over the last several months there’s been a fair amount of the annual “Is he a Hall of Famer” debate. There’s the “the numbers tell me” argument, which tends to help players like Bert Blyleven. And there’s the “my eyes tell me” argument, which tends to favor players like Jack Morris. Here’s a fusion of the two, using our “eyes” to look at “the numbers” courtesy of Rankometer.
With Rankometer, we examine a pitcher’s career by visualizing how his WAR stacked up against his peers each season. Since a Hall of Famer should be performing at an elite level, we look at the top 30 starting pitchers in each season, since they would seemingly represent the “elite” (each team’s ace, the top 20 percent, however you want to look at it). So let’s take Rankometer for a spin and see what our eyes tell us.
Let’s first look at a first ballot Hall of Famer, Greg Maddux. What do my eyes tell me? He was the best among the best for a long stretch. Consistent dominance for an extended period of time. The big block of color says “Hall of Famer” to me.
Now let’s look at a borderline candidate, Mike Mussina. Rankometer reveals a lesser pitcher than Maddux, but still an elite pitcher for an extended period of time, with some off-years here and there. Hard to say with Mussina, but after looking at his Rankometer I am more of a believer.
Now, let’s look at Andy Pettitte. What do your eyes tell you when you look at his Rankometer? To me, the visual doesn’t come close to Mussina’s (let alone Maddux’s). I know we’re not considering his postseason resume, which this doesn’t capture (maybe a future revision could). But still, my eyes don’t tell me “Hall of Famer” when I look at this visual. What do you see?